No, not the mountain − the double glazing firm.
What follows is a tale for our times.
A few weeks before Christmas, my mum, who is an independent, ninety-seven year old in full possessions of all her faculties, received a cold call from a well know double glazing company.
They asked her if she was thinking of having any of her windows replaced and she told them she was not (Everest, the firm who were doing the cold calling, had done the original windows and decades later they are still going strong.) Then the salesman said “What about doors?” to which Mum replied that she was having trouble with the lock on her front door and was it possible to do anything about that.
“Oh no,” the salesman said. “That is definitely not possible. Once the lock has gone, then the whole door must be replaced. If you like, I can send someone round in the next day or so to give you a quote.”
Two or three days later, the people from Everest turned up and quoted Mum a mere £2000 to replace her front door.
Thinking there was no alternative, and fearful of being locked out of the house, when she next went out, Mum reluctantly agreed and wrote a cheque for the deposit.
Now let’s recap. Everest had given Mum false information, locks can be replaced, there was no need for a new front door.
Luckily at this point, my daughter comes over to see her granny and when she hears the sorry tale rings Everest and demands to speak to the manager in charge. She explains the situation and is promised a refund of the deposit and no further communication by the firm.
The next step is to get the door fixed. The firm of locksmiths she tries is fully booked, but when they learn the situation, they suggest an independent contractor−Connor who quotes £200 for the job. Not only that, but he comes round as soon as he can, as he is concerned that Mum is living on her own. He is polite, pleasant and efficient. The door lock works perfectly. All is well.
Then…a week or so later Everest ring, again. They have stated categorically that they will not contact Mum again, but obviously the sales rep either does not know this, or is willing to take the risk to get his bonus before Christmas. Mum is told that he understands she has cancelled the contract but would she like to re-think as he is sure he can get her a better price for the job.
Once again, we are in luck. I take the phone, explain as politely as I can that the situation has been resolved and ask what Everest’s policy is on dealing with vulnerable older people. Naturally, they have a policy, naturally they are concerned, but the rep does not think that he has breached any of the company rules. After asking him if he would like his grandmother to be treated in this way, to which he has no reply, I put down the phone.
The moral−Big companies don’t care. Sales reps who are on commission don’t care. Small business men who have a reputation and are indeed decent human beings do.